There are calls for churches in Papua New Guinea to take a leading role in combating violence associated with sorcery beliefs.

Reverend Jack Urame from the Melanesian Institute in Goroka has told Radio Australia's the problem needs to be urgently addressed.

He says attacks on suspected witches and sorcery-related murders appear to be increasing.

"At the moment the situation is getting worse because people continue to attribute sickness and death to sorcery and witchcraft," he said.

"So I think the belief is deeply a thing ingrained into the culture, and so we have experienced a lot of killings and accusations here."

The Melanesian Institute has recently published a handbook on how churches can dispel rumours that sorcery has caused a person's death by explaining the medical reasons.

Reverand Urame is calling on churches in the country to collaborate to raise awareness in the community, starting with children.

"If we don't start early with the children now the belief will continue to be carried on to the next generation," he said.

Reverand Urame says hospitals in the country also need to work with the churches to ensure inadequate medical reports do not fuel people's belief in sorcery and witchcraft.

"A lot of accusations and killings are based on rumours and so we need to also help people understand the biomedical explanation for sickness and death," he said.


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